New study suggests Native Americans originated from single Asian migration wave
By Ryan General
December 19, 2023
A new study has proposed that Native Americans may have stemmed from a single population that split from East Asians, challenging previous theories of multiple migration waves.
Novel approach: Researchers from the Dental Anthropology Group at the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolucion Humana used a forensic analysis program called the rASUDAS2 to predict the ancestry of 1,418 ancient individuals from Asia and the Americas by analyzing their dental variation, according to a press release.
The researchers, led by Leslea Hlusko and Richard Scott of the University of Nevada, analyzed the dental data at the individual level, unlike previous studies that focused on group averages. This allowed them to identify finer-grained patterns of ancestry within the overall Native American population.
Key findings: The study, published in the American Journal of Biological Anthropology, revealed that Native Americans exhibit a consistent affinity to East Asia, suggesting that they derive from a single population that separated from East Asian populations around 5,000-10,000 years ago during the last ice age.
This supports previous studies based on other data, indicating Native Americans share significant East Asian ancestry (classified as East Asian 10-15% of the time). The report noted that the ancestral population likely lived in Beringia before migrating to the Americas.
Arctic connection: Native Americans also demonstrate an affinity with Arctic populations, though this diminishes with geographical distance. This suggests a later migration of Arctic populations into the area, leading to intermixing with existing Native American populations and decreasing similarity in tooth variation further south.
Tied2Teeth Project: Hlusko leads the Tied2Teeth project, a groundbreaking initiative that aims to create a comprehensive dental variation database for more extensive analyses.
“Our study shows the power of analyzing dental variation at the level of the individual, and is just a preview of what is to come,” Hlusko was quoted as saying.
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